Friday Fun: BYOBL! Bring Your Own Bike Lane

Altitude Inc., a Boston-based design firm, released the prototype for a laser-projected bike lane to accompany cyclists during night trips. Alex Tee and Evan Grant, the engineers behind the concept, designed the tool to ensure safety for cyclists by making them visible on the dark road.

The tool, appropriately titled, “LightLane,” is a great companion to conventional “blinky” lights, which only light up the center point of a cyclist without defining the dimensions. LightLane displays the image of a bike lane on either side of the cyclist and projects as far back as 10 feet onto the pavement. The device is compatible with universal mobile-phone charger standards and runs on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which are known for their slow loss of charge and high energy densities that allow them to pack more energy into their small frames.

Although the engineers originally intended to keep the cost of the device to $50, that goal no longer seems achievable. But at twice, or even three times, the intended amount, LightLane is still a fraction of the cost of installing traditional bike lanes, which may cost $5,000 to $50,000 per mile. Whether LightLane should replace traditional bike lanes is a debatable question, however, it can be a great tool to accompany night riders, ensuring their safety by setting a crisp boundary around the perimeter of the space they occupy.

Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), in sponsorship with Businessweek, Target and Autodesk, already awarded the LightLane prototype the Gold International Design Excellence Award in 2009. A panel of judges, including world-renowned designers and thinkers, awarded the title to LightLane after weeks of evaluations. Jim Wicks, one of the jurors and also the corporate vice president of consumer experience design at Motorola, praised the prototype on its originality and usefulness. “The concept is fantastic and viable. A design that immediately resonates with the viewer and extends the perception of biker space beyond the bike itself. This is a great solution for increasing biker safety,” concluded Wicks.

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